Hope and happiness make for a good Tournament. Our interview with Pres. Laura Farber

Laura V. Farber in the parlor of Tournament House

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Every new president of the Tournament of Roses is enthusiastic when talking about his or her parade, but it would be hard to beat the outright energy and joy of Laura Farber. Even when presented with concerns about the future““““` from long-time parade fans, she maintained her exuberance.

Farber took the helm of the 2020 Tournament of Roses on Jan. 17. She brings her personal vision to the 131st Rose Parade, 106th Rose Bowl Game, and all the attendant events that draw hundreds of thousands of people to the Pasadena area to share in America’s New Year Celebration. She is enthusiastic about new developments in the celebration, but loves the traditions, as well.

“I think that we have to respect tradition, but balance it with innovation,” she said. “We strive in everything we do” to strike that balance.

To that end, in addition to the longstanding committees, the Tournament now has a social media committee, an innovation team, and the brand new Festival Committee to plan and implement events.

“We want to enhance our demographic,” she said, with events that will “attract my kids.” She noted that television is being replaced by streaming for the younger demos. The Funny or Die live stream of the Rose Parade with Will Farrell and Molly Shannon was very successful, she said. It incorporated live chat to engage watchers.

It won’t be Macy’s

A concern that has often been expressed to The Rose Examiner is that increased emphasis on entertainment may lead to a parade that emulates the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“Have no fear. We will not be Macy’s,” Farber insisted. “Macy’s and the Rose Parade are the most diametrically opposed [parades] I have ever seen.” The Macy’s entertainment is for the cameras, and then the floats come, she said. There is a single broadcaster, who can control every element., whereas the Rose Parade has several broadcasters.

“It’s apples and oranges…. We have no desire to turn into Macy’s.”

The official 2020 Tournament of Roses pin is circular to represent that hope is never ending

“We don’t want the parade of 20 years ago,”  she said, but “for traditionalists—we have something for you. It’s your Rose Parade.”

Entertainment or floats?

Something longtime fans will appreciate is how often Farber mentioned florals for floats. “Increase those florals,” she stated several times. Dry materials have distinct uses, but she said, “I’d like to see more floral and less seeds.” She would be “thrilled” to have more floral elements, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be entertainment.

“I do believe in having interactive floats and entertainment. It’s just how it comes together.” She mentioned Earth, Wind and Fire atop the 2018 Forum float, who brought parade-goers to their feet. “They made people happy. People were jumping up and down.” Pauses in the parade for performances are few and are carefully considered, she noted. They are factored into the time frame for the parade, which is two hours on the dot for broadcast.

Speaking of floats…

One event locals and visitors have looked forward to for decades is visiting the float barns during Deco Week, the last few days before the Rose Parade. The floats are in the final stages of flowering at that point, and the volunteers are scurrying around to get finished in time for judging. With no float barns left in Pasadena since Phoenix Decorating company joined the other two commercial builders, Fiesta Parade Floats and AES 15 miles to the east, Deco Week has been scaled down.

For the 2019 parade, AES moved its floats to Rosemont Pavilion, the float barn in the Rose Bowl area, along with Cal Poly Universities and FTD decorated cars. Some viewers expressed disappointment in the limited offerings for the $15 admission price. We asked if having shuttles to the other float barns might help.

Farber said that the Tournament is going to look at shuttles, but can’t make promises. They are also trying to make Rosemont more of an event. This year, AES put on Sip & Savor, a tasting event, next to the barn.

“It’s a good deal, pay for the floats and get admission to Sip & Savor. It was packed, the vendors were happy,” she said. The feedback was good, she said, and there were activities for children, as well. (Sampling tickets were about $2.50 each.)

Each block letter has an embedded illustration: band, equestrian, float, Rose Bowl Stadium

The Power of Hope

Farber was surprised to learn that the word “hope” had never been used in a Tournament of Roses theme before she chose “The Power of Hope” for the 2020 celebration. It is a word that has deep meaning for her, and runs throughout her life.

Farber’s parents came to the States with her when she was a young girl. They were students in Argentina during the time of the “Dirty War.” There was a lack of stability, she said, and students were the most vocal critics of the military government. Civil rights were abrogated.

“It was not a place where you felt comfortable that you could stay,” she said. One of her parents’ professors knew someone at University of California Santa Barbara, and her family was able to immigrate. Her parents, both biochemists, found a place at UCSB.

“It takes a lot to leave everything and everyone you know,” she said.

Her husband, Tomás Lopez, had similar experiences. His family came to New York from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The US offered hope, opportunity, the ability to make a new life.

“That kind of motivated this theme. It’s a unifying theme at a time when we need to be unified,” she said. The New Year is a “time to turn over a new leaf.” Hope is life, she shared. It’s respect, joy, happiness. It’s inspirational, motivational, and aspirational.

“Nobody can ever take it away. There’s something powerful about it,” she said. “The Power of Hope.”

Telling other stories

Farber was animated when the subject of marching bands came up. There are more bands from Latin America than ever before, an all-female band from Copenhagen that she is excited about, and many first-year bands.

She rattled of some of the names: West Harrison High School, Miss., which was founded after Hurricane Katrina; Southern University, Baton Rouge, La.; the rare band from upstate New York; from Houston, Texas, Pearland High School, which served as a shelter during Hurricane Harvey; units from  Greendale, Wis. and Alhambra, Calif.; and a  Moreno Valley, Calif. Title I high school.

The Music Committee hosts a music night to show the videos of applicant bands 18 months prior to the parade. The videos present the music and the story that each unit has to tell.

“The quality is off the charts,” Farber said, referencing both the performances and the stories.

Part of the community

Farber is proud that the Tournament of Roses Association is part of the Pasadena community year-round, not just for a few days before and after Jan. 1. Farber reads books to elementary school students and will participate in the Black History and Latino Heritage parades. The Association and Tournament of Roses Foundation support local public schools with money, volunteers, and events.

“The Power of Hope” applies to the game as well, Farber said. The Rose Bowl Game Keith Jackson Postgraduate Scholarship awards $10,000 each to one student from the Big Ten Conference and one student from the Pac-12 Conference. The students do not have to be on the football players. They will shadow the Rose Bowl Game staff and will be presented with their award at Lawry’s Beef Bowl.

The weather report

It’s always sunny for the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game, except when it isn’t. But for the previous 130 parades, it has only rained on 10 parades. There are certain superstitions that go along with that—never have a parade on Sunday, don’t ask a Supreme Court Justice to be the Grand Marshal, and don’t choose a theme with any reference to water—but there seems to be only one person responsible.

“The Executive VP is in charge of weather,” Farber informed us. The Executive Vice President becomes the President for the following year. She told 2019 Pres. Gerald Freeny that she gave him a good parade, and it seems she expects 2021 Pres. Robert Miller to provide lovely weather for hers.

Ultimately, Laura Farber hopes that the 131st Tournament of Roses, with the parade, game, and many events, will bring the “joy and happiness of the New Year. We are ‘America’s New Year Celebration.’”

Easterseals celebrates 100 years at Fiesta Parade Floats

Actor Nic Novicki led a cheer—actually, several of them—to celebrate Easterseals 100th anniversary and the Rose Parade float at Fiesta Parade Floats.

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Easterseals has aided people with disabilities for a full century and is the largest disabilities service provider in the United States. To celebrate and honor this anniversary, the organzation is sending its first-ever entry, a giant flowered birthday cake down the Rose Parade route in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 1, 2019,. Last Saturday, Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) threw a party at Fiesta Parade Floats and invited Tournament of Roses Royalty to attend. Photos are below.

Nancy Weintraub, chief development officer for ESSC, said, “If there was ever a time to do one, this is now.” The 100th is a big party, and “it deserves a parade.”

Board member Mary Platt told us “For years [we talked about] how to get our name out among a broader group of people.” The float was a dream of hers and others. “All of a sudden, this became a reality.”

The “all of a sudden” took 18 months to two years to get through the process of committee work, coordinating with the headquarters in Chicago, and going through design and building. The festive float, “Celebrating Easterseals: 100 Years of Disability Services,” was designed by Charles Meier with  a 20-foot high cake, party horns, and presents.

Easterseals serves 1.5 million people with disabilities across the country every year. ESSC is the largest autism service in California, with 8,500 families. One of the goals of Easterseals is to build a more inclusive future for the 61 million Americans with diverse disabilities. There are services for adults, children, veterans, seniors, and caregivers. Services include day services, therapy, peer-to-peer groups which help with social interaction, camp, and assistance in finding housing and employment.

There were a couple celebrities making the rounds at the party: actress Jamie Brewer, who has been a recurring actress in 20 episodes of American Horror Story, and Nic Novicki, who has 45 acting credits on IMDB and a couple dozen credits in writing, producing, and directing. He had a recurring role on Boardwalk Empire, and as Tyrion Lannister in the spoof School of Thrones. Both were irrepresible in their excitement over the Easterseals float and the work the nonprofit does.

Novicki is an ESSC board member and Founder/Director Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. The short videos have people with disabilities on or behind the camera, and can be serious or funny. Some can be viewed at the link above, along with information on how to enter the sixth challenge in 2019.

Brewer has worked in theater since she went to a summer program in 8th grade, for which she got college credit. She learned stagecraft, acting, and valuable skills for her career. In addition to American Horror Story, a new movie, Turnover, is in post production.

“An older man takes a new direction in life,” she explained. “He hires individuals who have different backgrounds, different abilities. Two special communities are represented: the Down Syndrome community and the deaf community.”

We asked if she sees herself as a role model and groundbreaker. She replied enthusiastically, “I am! I do break barriers! I’m the first woman with Down Syndrome to walk in a New York Fashion Week.”

When it was time to cut the real cake sitting in front of the float, President & CEO Mark Whitley underscored the “effort of inclusion” Easterseals promotes. “What better way to celebrate 100 years, than a float in the Rose Parade.”

Mary  Platt stood with her son Michael, who is autistic, as she spoke. “The question is always, ‘What do you do?’” She said that the float will show some 80 million viewers all over the world what Easterseals does.

One of the most affecting speakers was Howard McBroom, Advocate for Easterseals. He worked himself into a job after some time of speaking with legislators and politicians as a volunteer. He was so effective in Sacramento, that Easterseals gave him a full-time job.

“Only one in five people with disabilities have affordable housing. The other four do not,” he stated. He says this is a “national disgrace.” When he meets with legislators who express sympathy, he tells them, “Compassion does not pay the bills.”

The young women on the Royal Court also spoke. Princess Helen Rossi, who has juvenile arthritis, said, “This event is special to me, because (for my Girl Scout Gold Award), I wrote a storybook for kids with disabilities.”

Queen Louise directly addressed the need for diversity. “I learned about Easterseals’ effort to destigmatize disability….Years ago, the Court was all white women,” she said, adding that the Tournament of Roses will continue to diversify.

“Celebrating Easterseals: 100 Years of Disability Services” will have 12 riders, spinning pinwheels, 3,000 hot pink roses, a coconut flake-covered cake, and lots and lots of marigolds. The flower is associated with Easterseals, and will be represented with fresh petals and stylized sculptures. McBroom will ride the float, with Easterseals Program Director Bryan Nguyen, who is a peer-to-peer counselor.

Kim Cohn, Vice President Marketing Communications for ESSC, explained how the riders were chosen. Each one of the 71 Easterseals affiliates were given the opportunity to nominate a rider, and 20 or 30 did.

“The committee looked for great, inspiring Easterseals stories, and those were chosen to ride the float,” she said.

Nine of the riders are Easterseals clients and three are accompanying riders. They are Kaison Shipp-Collier, 12, Easterseals Nevada (autism); Sophia Stafford, 17, Easterseals Southeastern Pennsylvania (Williams Syndrome), accompanied by sister Sabrina Stafford, Easterseals music therapist; Reagan Crabtree, 20, Easterseals Iowa (apraxia, autism); Blake Scribner, 21, Easterseals Central Illinois (brachial plexis injury), accompanied by Katie Pena, therapist; Matthew Jameson, 21, Easterseals Massachusetts (spastic diplegic cerebral palsy); Lora Glassman, 32, Easterseals Southern California (brain condition); Ernesto Gutierrez, 43, Easterseals Southern California (injury from an IED attack); Howard McBroom, 60, Easterseals Southern California (autism), accompanied by Brian Nguyen, Easterseals Program Director; danny Blake, 68, Easterseals Blake Foundation (cerebral palsy)

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All photos copyright Laura Berthold Monteros. Contact administrator for permissions.

Photos: Chaka Khan and Gerald Freeny at Rose Parade Grand Marshal Announcement

Chaka Khan, 2019 Rose Parade Grand Marshal, was surprised by the colorful confetti raining down when she came through the purple curtains.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The announcement of the Grand Marshal for the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade had the usual elements. Oct. 17 was a beautiful, warm day, the front porch of Tournament House was gorgeously draped, the band was great, the press stand packed. There was the usual excitement in the audience, waiting to find out who would ride in the Grand Marshal’s car on Jan. 1, 2019. When Chaka Khan was announced, the crowd roared and the confetti cannon went off.

Known as the “Queen of Funk,” Chaka also sings R&B, pop, rock, gospel, and country. We asked what other music she likes; she responded, “I love Indian music.” She just finished a project in the Gujarati language with Indian performer Sonu Nigam, which celebrates the life of Gandhi.

Check out the gallery below for photos, and this link for a video on the TOR Rose Parade Facebook page.

But there was a lot that was unusual in the announcement.

There were fewer hints in the food served, music played, decorations (except for the purple drapes), yet from the murmurs in the crowd, it seemed like more people than normal had an idea of who it would be. That may have been because more details were released ahead of time—10 Grammy awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a place in the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. In his introduction, Pres. Gerald Freeny gave more details that confirmed those hunches, and affirmed that she was indeed a performer who would sing and dance in the opening act of the parade.

Chaka and her retinue were late, reportedly due to LA traffic. The Tournament, which makes sure the Rose Parade starts at 8 a.m. on the dot and the Rose Bowl Game coin toss is never late, announced that the star player would be 15 minutes behind the 9 a.m. start time. It was a quarter after when family members took their seats in the front row, and past 9:30 when Freeny stepped up to the lectern.

Now, a heads-up: Much of this article reflects the opinions of the writer, which is also unusual. If there is one constant in the feelings of folks who love the Rose Parade, it is that they very rarely and almost never publicly criticize the choice of a theme or Grand Marshal. People tend to be pretty polite when it comes to this grand old Pasadena tradition, and the criticism The Rose Examiner heard was couched in the politest terms.

There was disappointment about Chaka’s speech, which seemed thoroughly unprepared. She opened with “Well, I just don’t know where to go with this,” but added, “I’m so honored.” She thrice referred to “the Rose Bowl Parade,” which any GM would have been coached not to do. The theme, “The Melody of Life,” was garbled into “The Rhythm of Life.” References to the parade indicated that she had just not done her homework. (To her credit, she did name the Old Pasadena business district correctly.)

Other than noting that the floats are pretty, she seemed to have no interest in the Rose Parade. She said, “I remember looking at it. But not really looking…. Y’know, it was after the big game.” The game actually comes after the parade. It did seem she was a tad self-conscious—she said, “I hope you like me” and acknowledged that she was “a little bit scared.”

She said little about the Chaka Khan Foundation or what it does. This contrasted with previous Grand Marshals, such as Gary Sinise, whose tireless work for veterans is well known and very personal to him. Jane Goodall had not known about our American tradition when approached, but took the time to find out and agreed to be GM because it is consistent with the values of her charitable work. Actor J.R. Martinez was not a star but has an amazing, compelling story and his courage is indisputable.

There was also some speculation that Stevie Wonder, whom Freeny mentioned three times, was his first choice for Grand Marshal, not Chaka. Indicators were her lack of preparation and not having any idea what she would do for the opening show. Be that as it may, it is not unusual for a president to go with a second or third choice and it doesn’t reflect on how good a GM might be.

A friend of your Rose Examiner was refused by his first choice, who was not available on New Year’s Day, and his second choice backed out at the last minute. His third choice, Gregory Peck, proved to be one of the happiest GMs ever. When he was a child, his family drove up from San Diego to watch the parade every year. One year, they took a stray dog back with them. He was the first, and perhaps only, GM to get the Tournament time on The Tonight Show, due to his friendship with Johnny Carson.

Another late choice was Chesley Sullenberger III for 2010—late, because the TOR president had passed away before choosing a Grand Marshal. Yet what better choice could there have been that year for the theme “A Cut Above the Rest” than the “Hero of the Hudson.”

The Chaka Khan Foundation

Perhaps these comments come out of a suspicion about non-profits, due to years of working for both good ones and bad ones. It is difficult to tell from the foundation website whether the organization is actually out in the community working on programs, or simply partnering with other organizations that do the work. It is fine if a foundation does not actually create or run programs, but supports successful programs financially and with star power. That should be clear in the material, though, whether spoken, written, or posted online. It would have been good to hear more about it from the Tournament media release or Chaka herself.

Chaka established the Chaka Khan Foundation in 1999. The mission statement is “The Chaka Khan Foundation educates, inspires and empowers children in our community to achieve their full potential.” The foundation website says “The Chaka Khan Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.”

However, it does not show up by EIN search on either Charity Navigator or GuideStar, and only on GuideStar by name, with the note “This organization’s exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.” The “foundation team” has photos but no names attached, and does not state there is a board of directors as required by law. The only information on  the team page is a long promotional piece for the album “ClassiKhan.”

If Chaka did not do her homework on the Tournament of Roses, it appears that the Tournament of Roses did not do its homework on her foundation, either.

 

Who’s your guess for the 2019 Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal?

2019 Tournament of Roses poster

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The person—or persons—who will serve as Grand Marshal for the 130th Rose Parade and toss the coin for the 105th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2019 will be announced at Tournament House on Wednesday, October 17 at 9 a.m. Pres. Gerald Freeny will do the honors Who will it be?

The theme is “The Melody of Life,” so that’s a clue. The poster and signs feature a saxophone—could that be a clue? Pres. Freeny likes jazz, but also rock and hymnody. Here’s what we wrote after we interviewed him last January:

With such an expansive theme, it’s difficult to make guesses about who the Grand Marshal might be. Freeny said they are working on several. He, his wife Trina, and adult daughter Erica are “praying to get who we really, really want.” They aren’t short on suggestions, though. One was Condoleeza Rice, who is a highly talented pianist as well as having served as both National Security Advisor and Secretary of State for George W. Bush. Even her name is melodious: It’s derived from con dolcezza, a musical term meaning “with sweetness.” LA Phil music director Gustavo Dudamel has been mentioned, but Freeny’s frat brothers in Kappa Alpha Psi are pushing for someone from Motown. He even opined that it could be more than one, as Brad Ratliff had in the 2017 parade.

Our guesses include classical music artists such as Condi Rice or local hero Gustavo Dudamel, Broadway star Audra McDonald, or an entire group from rock, Motown, or other popular music genre. Somehow, however, we just don’t have a handle on where this might go. There are too many genres of music and too many great musicians to make an educated guess.

Let us know yours in the comments! You have to sign in (this is to avoid spam comments), but we never use your information. And don’t forget to watch the announcement, streaming live on Facebook!

2019 Royal Court

Helen Rossi, Flintridge Prep; Rucha Kadan, La Cañada Flintridge HS; Lauren Baydaline, Westridge; Micaela McElrath, Westridge;

Sherry Ma, San Marino HS; Louise Siskel, Sequoyah HS; Ashley Hackett, John Muir HS.

 

Queen Louise cuts the ribbon as the 2019 Royal Court opens the Visitor Hotline

Coronation of the 101st Rose Queen and Presentation of the 2019 Royal Court tickets on sale

One out of 7: How the Rose Queen is chosen from the Royal Court

Crowning the Rose Parade Queens: Photo gallery

Photos: Meet the 2019 Rose Parade Royal Court

Rose Parade Royal Court for 2019 Announced

Tournament of Roses chooses 44 girls as Royal Court finalists for 2019 parade

Photos of Royal Court hopefuls at the tryouts for 2019

Be a princess—or a queen! Rose Parade Royal Court applications are open for 2019

 

Photos: Meet the 2019 Rose Parade Royal Court

2019 Rose Parade Royal Court: L-R, Helen Rossi, Flintridge Prep; Rucha Kadam, La Cañada Flintridge HS; Lauren Baydaline, Westridge; Micaela McElrath, Westridge; Gerald Freeny, president Tournament of Roses; Sherry Ma, San Marino HS; Louise Siskel, Sequoyah HS; Ashley Hackett, John Muir HS.

BUY TICKETS TO THE CORONATION

by Laura Berthold Monteros

There were a few unusual occurrences at the announcement of the Tournament of Roses Royal Court on Oct. 1. More about those in a minute, as well as bios on each Rose Princess. To folks in the Pasadena area, the annual announcement of the Royal Court is more exciting than the announcement of the Rose Queen on Oct. 23. Once the court is revealed, the Queen will be one of those elite seven girls, but almost everyone in the area is only one or two degrees removed from one or more of the finalists. It’s an edge-of-your-seat moment.

The selection of the Court begins with some 900 young women from a couple dozen area schools, who try out on a hot weekend in early September. Through a series of interviews, the number is whittled down to around 35 finalists, from which seven are chosen to attend some 100 events as ambassadors for the Tournament, and to ride in the 130th Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2019.

Be sure to check out the photo gallery at the end of this article!

Surprise #1: This year, there were 44 finalists. Queen & Court Committee chair Craig Washington noted that the first Rose Queen, Hallie Woods, was crowned in 1905, which was also the year a certain theory was revealed. He said selecting finalists is “almost as difficult as understanding Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.” It was such formidable task this fall, he said, that the committee ended up with 44 “exceptional finalists.”

Surprise #2: Not a huge one, but the last time The Rose Examiner recalls Washington on stage was when his daughter Drew was chosen as the 2012 Rose Queen. He knows both sides of the equation.

Surprise #3: The male members on Q&C escort each of the finalists from Tournament House to the steps at the south entrance, as they are introduced by the chair. This time around, the female members of Q&C also escorted the girls. It took a while, but TOR is getting there.

Surprise #4: How long it took the TOR to get here: Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny is the first African-American to assume the presidency.

Surprise #5: The finalists lined up in numerical order, rather than being placed according to height as previously. This made it difficult to get a good group photo.

Surprise #6: There were eight finalists from Mayfield Senior School, the most from one school since The Rose Examiner has been covering the Tournament of Roses. We were pretty sure at least one would make the Court, but Mayfield is not represented on the Court.

Surprise #7: The seven girls on the Court represent six different schools, one of which has never had a Rose Princess before and one which has not been represented for longer than we have been writing about the Rose Parade.

Meet the 2019 Rose Princesses

Freeny gave a short talk about the theme he and his wife Trina chose, “The Melody of Life.” Then one by one, Freeny called out the school and the name of the young woman, until all seven were lined up. In addition to a summary of her involvement in the community, each provided her own take on the theme of the 2019 festivities.

Rose Princesses Sherry Xiaorui Ma, San Marino High School, Louise Deser Siskel, Sequoyah High School, and Ashley Symone Hackett, John Muir High School

Ashley Symone Hackett, a senior at John Muir High School, was the first to be called, and is the first Muir girl on the Royal Court since 2003. She told us, “I am extremely blessed to get this opportunity.” She said that John Muir is an “amazing” school, and she wants to make the administration and her friends proud. She wants to “set a good example for incoming freshmen” in their dreams and aspirations.

Ashley is a member of the Black Student Union, Pasadena Panthers Youth Cheer and Dance, John Muir Pep Squad, and is secretary of the Associated Student Body, a dance trainer with Los Angeles Country Tiny Tots, activities leader with the VA of Greater Los Angeles, and youth leader at Metropolitan Baptist Church. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking with her dad, watching football and basketball, hiking, and swimming. She plans to study human biology and would like to attend University of California, Los Angeles, University of Southern California, or University of Washington. Ashley lives in Pasadena and is the daughter of Alvin and Ramona Hackett; she has two siblings, Jordan and Kennedy.

“For me,The Melody of Life’ means that everyone has highs and lows in life, but just like in music both high notes and low notes add value to the piece, just as it would in life,” she said. “Low times in life are often dreaded but to me these times help add value and character to an individual. Without the low times that I have experienced, I would not be able to appreciate the high moments of life that I have been blessed with.”

Louise Deser Siskel is a senior at Sequoyah High School and lives in San Marino. She represents two firsts for Sequoyah: She is the first young woman from the school to serve on the Royal Court, and is also a member of the first graduating class of Sequoyah High School. (The lower school started in 1958.) She told us that Sequoyah is a “wonderful” school, and that she loves the school and its community.

Louise is  a member of the Debate Team and Judicial Committee at Sequoyah High School, and YMCA Youth and Government. She is researching breast cancer under Dr. Shehla Pervin at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.

Louise enjoys reading, playing board games with her family, traveling, and laughing with friends. She plans to study cellular and molecular biology and would like to attend Johns Hopkins University, The University of Chicago, or Yale University. Louise is the daughter of Charlie Siskel and Abigail Deser; she has one brother, Simon.

“For me, ‘The Melody of Life’ is standing at the lab bench at 7 a.m., singing along to show tunes,” she said. “It is classical music when I’m writing and 2000s hits when I’m nervous. I belt out Cole Porter verses with my grandfather and ABBA anthems with my friends. Music has an astounding capacity to bring people together and has always been an integral part of my favorite traditions and most treasured memories. Music makes the world a more forgiving and more joyful place.”

Sherry Xiaorui Ma is a senior at San Marino High School and lives in Temple City. She is  editor-in-chief of the San Marino High School Titanian yearbook, president and founder of the Make-A-Wish Club, and a varsity basketball manager. Sherry enjoys playing the flute and piano, reading, dancing, and spending time with friends. She plans to study communication and media studies and would like to attend Emerson College, Fordham University, New York University, or University of Southern California. Sherry is the daughter of Alex Luk and Kristy Ma; she has one sister, Sally Yang.

“Music is a language that is spoken through emotions. Not everyone can understand words, but everyone understands the power of love and kindness,” she said. “We are all connected, just like the music notes that are intermittently connected. Music gives you the power to reach people you know, and even the people you don’t know. The ‘Melody of Life’ is about the musical conversation all around us that expresses what cannot be said. This melody can help humans forget their differences and come together to transform negativity into hope, freedom, and color. This year’s theme has a very deep emotional connection to me because of how passionate I am about artistic expression.”

Rose Princess Micaela Sue McElrath, Westridge School

Micaela Sue McElrath is a senior at Westridge School and lives in Pasadena. She is  an afterschool volunteer tutor with Stars, vice president of the 12th grade class at Westridge School, 3rd year Peer to Peer Counselor, and a teacher assistant in a 4th grade classroom. Micaela enjoys being involved in community service, all things fashion, hair, and makeup, and is avid watcher of football and baseball.  She plans to study psychology, education, and English and would like to attend Bard College, Connecticut College, Fordham University, Trinity College, or University of Southern California. Micaela is the daughter of Matthew McElrath and Inez Enguidanos-McElrath; she has four siblings, Stuart, Belen, Mariah, and Evan.

 “Throughout the years, I have listened to many different types of music styles and genres; ranging from country music to radio hits,” she said. “The diversity in my music choices reflect the diversity in my life. My dad introduced me to classic rock while my mom raised me on Mexican love songs. The constant throughout all of this has been my love for Selena Quintanilla. I grew up listening to her music with my family. Selena has served as a role model to me of a strong woman with an influential voice, using her gifts to help others.”

Lauren Michele Baydaline is a senior at Westridge School and lives in South Pasadena. She is  secretary of the Associated Student Body, founder and head of Every Body Affinity, head of book club, 3rd year Peer to Peer, volunteer in Reading Rocks program at Hillsides, and a camp counselor at YMCA Glendale. Lauren enjoys reading, writing poetry, and spending time with friends and family. She plans to study biology, linguistics, and Latin and would like to attend Boston College, Duke University, Emory University, Tulane University, University of Richmond, or Villanova University. Lauren is the daughter of Nick and Selena Baydaline; she has one brother, Christian.   

Personally, melody of life means the pace at which life flows. Life is an unpredictable symphony,” s

Rose Princess Lauren Michele Baydaline, Westridge School

he said. “Every moment, experience, and memory all flow together to create a melody. There are good parts and bad parts, where the beats may speed up and intensify, but each part of the piece is what makes it unique. Life is a melody, and we are all the composers to our own pieces.”

Rucha S. Kadam is a senior at La Cañada High School and lives in La Cañada Flintridge. She is  a member of the LCHS varsity soccer team, Assistance League of Flintridge, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Space Academy, 2018 Miss La Cañada Flintridge Royal Court, Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) board, Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), California Scholarship Federation (CSF), treasurer of LCHS Associated Student Body (ASB), Hackademia director, and LCUSD Technology and Computer Science intern. She plans to study computer science or medical science and would like to attend Amherst College, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles, Swarthmore College, or Wellesley College. Rucha enjoys baking, reading, listening to music, playing board games, and the piano. Rucha is the daughter of Shailesh Kadam and Vaishali Bhosale; she has one brother, Ahan.

Music is universal—it transcends the barriers of language, religion, race, culture, or ideological beliefs and culture,” she said. “Music can bring together people by connecting them through the feelings that all humans share with each other. Music has the ability to evoke our most raw and powerful emotions. Music can draw out experiences and memories that unify us, despite our differences. Music can have an immense impact on our lives.”

Rose Princesses Helen Susan Rossi, Flintridge Preparatory School and Rucha S. Kadam, La Cañada Flintridge High School

Helen Susan Rossi is a senior at Flintridge Preparatory School and lives in La Cañada Flintridge. She is  a member or the Cooking Club, Diversity Club, Flint Leadership Club, and a Flintridge Prep Senior Leader. Helen’s community activities include National Charity League of Glendale, Senior Girl Scout, Troop 7331, Hathaway Sycamores tutor, Arthritis Foundation intern and Arthritis Foundation 2018 Youth Honoree. Helen enjoys cooking, photography, creative writing, and drawing. She plans to study business and psychology and would like to attend New York University, University of California, Los Angeles, or University of Southern California. Helen is the daughter of Philip and Susan Rossi.

“The theme ‘The Melody of Life’ reminds me of my days as a summer counselor when I taught young campers to play the recorder,” she said. “Some caught on quickly, and others had to work harder to master the notes, but we all helped each other out.  We laughed uproariously at the terrible sounds that first emerged, but eventually they all played a respectable version of ‘Yankee Doodle.’  That truly represents ‘The Melody of Life’ because with perseverance and support we created a melody together.”

Members of the John Muir High School Pep Squad. Princess Ashley’s sister, Kennedy, is second from left.

John Muir High School Pep Squad hopped on a bus to Tournament House to support the three Muir girls who were among the finalists. Most schools that have finalists send a delegation to the Royal Court announcement, but in this case, it was a very special day. Fellow member Ashley Hackett was chosen for the Court. It’s no surprise that a girl from Muir has what it takes to serve on the Court, but it is a surprise that the last Muir Princess, Heather Bell, was chosen in for the 2003 Royal Court

“It feels pretty good,” Ashley said when asked about that. The Muir applicants were coached by Jeané Ward of Alpha Kappa Alpha. JMHS has been a high school under various names since 1926, the second oldest in the Pasadena Unified School District. Kennedy Hackett, Princess Ashley’s sister and fellow pep squad member, is second from left in the photo. Asked if she would keep her sister humble, Kennedy said, “I’ll let her have (her pride) for the day.”

 

 

Rose Parade Royal Court for 2019 Announced

2019 Rose Parade Royal Court: L-R, Helen Rossi, Flintridge Prep; Rucha Kadam, La Cañada Flintridge HS; Lauren Baydaline, Westridge; Micaela McElrath, Westridge; Craig Washington, chair Queen & Court; Gerald Freeny, president Tournament of Roses; Sherry Ma, San Marino HS; Louise Siskel, Sequoyah HS; Ashley Hackett, John Muir HS. Photo copyright LB Monteros.

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny announced the seven young women who will serve of the 2019 Rose Parade Royal Court this morning. It was a proud moment for Freeny and for Craig Washington, chair of the Queen & Court Committee, whose daughter Drew was the 2012 Rose Queen. From the seven Rose Princesses, a Rose Queen will be chosen and announced on Oct. 23, 2018.

Upcoming: The Rose Examiner took a lot of photos and will post a gallery with information about each princess.

Float judges for 2019 Rose Parade announced

Preston Bailey, Michael Berry, and Kimberly Oldis will judge the floats in the 130th Rose Parade

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The Tournament of Roses announced the three judges who will determine which float entries receive awards in the 130th Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2019. The three are event designer Preston Bailey, president/CEO of the Kentucky Derby Festival Michael E. Berry, and floral and float designer Kimberly Oldis. The judges will distribute the 24 awards based on criteria including creative design, floral craftsmanship, artistic merit, computerized animation, thematic interpretation, floral and color presentation and dramatic impact.

Readers know The Rose Examiner usually does not state an opinion on the choices made by the Tournament, but this time, we will make an exception. Readers may have their own opinions, based on the bios below. Please state them in the comments.

First, we are not sure why only computerized animation will be considered. Manual animation on floats is rare today, but it does occur, and animation is still animation.

Then, there are the judges. Kimberly Oldis has, in our opinion, sterling credentials. She is not only a floral designer, but has designed Rose Parade floats for Charisma Floats from 2005 to 2010 and for Cal Poly Universities. But what about the others?

Preston Bailey has created stunning designs for weddings and other events, many of which would work as an element on floats, but they are not floats. A stationary installation is different from a moving sculpture. Will his experience translate into an understanding of how float design works? That it can’t be just a pretty piece, that it has to tell a story in 30 seconds that works on both TV and a city street?

Michael Berry certainly has event creds, but he will not be judging events. He will be judging floats. If the Tournament wanted to bring him on to help them jazz up the events surrounding the Rose Parade—pre- and post-parade viewing for example—it would be welcome. But a Rose Parade float is not an event, it is a creation.

Our biggest question is why, after recently moving away from the obligatory celebrity judge that was part of the equation for years, would the Tournament select two people who, in our opinion, are not qualified? What is the Tournament looking for?

Meet the judges

Here they are, straight from the media release (with style corrections), the three people who will decide who gets what in the 2019 Rose Parade.

Preston Bailey was named one of the best wedding planners in the world by Vogue Magazine and has been globally-celebrated for his unique ability to transform ordinary spaces into lush, theatrical environments. As a premier event designer, he has established a client roster that includes celebrities, royal families, CEOs and athletes. Since opening his design studio in 1980, Preston has been sought out to create one-of-a-kind, transformative designs that serve as backdrops for some of the most memorable moments of his clients’ lives.

A designer with a passion for creating designs to be enjoyed by the public as well as his clients, Preston has created numerous art installations featured across the world with showcases in New York, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Taiwan, Macao and London. This passion for creating designs, also translated into his tabletop linen collection, a collaborative effort with Nüage Designs. He has also developed many licensing agreements, with, Sandals Resorts, Godiva Chocolate, Uncle Ben’s Rice and Hewlett-Packard among others.

Preston’s dedication to supporting and remaining accessible to the event designing industry, initiated the idea for his PB Protégé program, a series of specialized master classes that offer mentorship and education to industry professionals at all levels. The author of seven books—five of them bestsellers—Preston is often asked to share his experience through speaking engagements, seminars, editorial profiles and television and radio interviews.

Michael E. Berry is the longest serving President/CEO in the history of the Kentucky Derby Festival, one of the nation’s largest civic celebrations. Beginning his career at Festival in 1986, following service as an assistant to Kentucky’s governor, Mike’s experience has been 32 years in the making. Mike oversees the planning and production of the award-winning celebration with nearly 70 events on the Festival’s official schedule. With a staff of 22 and a 75-member board of directors, Mike orchestrates this award-winning celebration each year. The Derby Festival spans over two-weeks and seeks to dazzle and delight spectators from Louisville and surrounding areas.

Mike is a member of WDRB/FOX 41 Advisory Board, the Bellarmine University Communications Department Task Force, treasurer of the General Grand Chapter of Eastern Star, and a trustee of the Episcopal Church Home Foundation of Kentucky.

He has served on the boards of several organizations including the board of directors for the International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA), IFEA Foundation, Music Theatre of Louisville, Stage One Family Theatre, Louisville Theatrical Association, and Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 2008, Mike was an inductee in the International Festivals and Events Association Hall of Fame and an inductee in the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity Hall of Fame. In 2012, Mike was inducted into the DeMolay International Hall of Fame and was the 2011 recipient of the Louisville Defender Outstanding Community Service Award.

Kimberly Oldis AIFD has been involved in the floral industry for over 44 years, including 21 years as a member of The American Institute of Floral Designers. Kim serves as the past president for the AIFD National Board. She previously held many elected offices in the North Central and North West Regional Chapters of AIFD. In 2008, Kim was the AIFD Symposium Chairman in Chicago. Volunteering for the Institute is her contribution to the floral industry.

Kim was involved with the Rose Parade from 2005 to 2010 as a Rose Parade float designer with Charisma Floats. Most recently she had volunteered as a designer with Cal Poly. Through Charisma, she had the privilege to be on the floral design team at the Academy Awards for four years. Kim had the honor to design for the 2004 Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. and was invited to design in 2015 at the White House.

Currently Kim is a freelance and event designer. For 16 years she owned Kimberly’s Flower Shop in Glen Ellyn, Ill. From 2001 to 2007, she was the assistant director of the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. “Engage, Educate and Enlighten” is the mantra that drives Kim’s floral mission; floristry is her passion.

 

Rose Parade rides: A car that’s a star and vintage autos for the celebrities

by Laura Berthold Monteros

J. Keith White, AIFD CFD takes a photo opp in the 1919 Dodge Brothers car while waiting for Grand Marshal Gary Sinise to arrive.

 

The Tournament of Roses Parade brings to mind huge floral floats with costumed riders gliding along Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena. But the best way to ride in the 2018 Rose Parade may well have been in a vintage Packard with a bullet hole in the side. Or at least, it might be the most evocative! The vintage vehicles that the Tournament Entries Committee picks out for the president, grand marshal, mayor, and Hall of Fame inductees often have colorful histories, and sometimes mysterious ones. It’s a mystery how that bullet hole got there, but it’s fun to think about.

J. Keith White, AIFD CFD and Peter Samek, AIFD are tasked with decorating the cars every year. We enjoy stopping by to chat with the always-welcoming gentlemen and to get a look at the creative adornments. The floral designers carefully choose the colors to complement both the cars and the riders.

Fall colors for the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame inductees in a 1933 Lincoln and 1909 Pope-Hartford brought to mind crisp autumn fields and cheering crowds. Florals in white on the 1929 Packard spoke to the dignity of  Pres. Lance Tibbet. The 1919 Dodge Brothers. that carried Grand Marshal Gary Sinise got several shades of purple that complemented the Pantone color of 2018, ultraviolet; read more about it here. Mayor Terry Tornek rode in 1924 Model TT jitney, decorated with baskets of florals and produce that recalled the bus’ first use as a produce truck.

The gallery with this article has photos of the vehicles in Rosemont Pavilion during deco week. Be sure to check out the captions for more on the flowering of the cars and some interesting facts. To see them in the parade, follow the links in the paragraphs above.

 

All photos are copyright 2017 by LB Monteros

Celebrity lineup in the 2018 Rose Parade: Rose Queen, Pres. Tibbet, PCC Honor Band

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The Tournament of Roses Parade steers clear of being a parade of personalities, but there are five VIP entries every year: Tournament president, Grand Marshal, Pasadena mayor, Rose Bowl Hall of Fame inductees, and of course, the Rose Queen and Royal Court. The gallery below includes the Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band and Herald Trumpets, because when it comes to Pasadena celebrities, they are right up there.

Today, center stage are Pres. Lance Tibbet, Rose Queen Isabella Marez and the Rose Princesses introduced by the Herald Trumpets, Mayor Terry Tornek, and the Tournament of Roses Honor Band. The information on each is in the captions with the photos. We’ve already written about Grand Marshal Gary Sinise in “Honoring vets in the 2018 Rose Parade” and will cover the sports aspect of the parade and more about the cars and flowering in upcoming pieces.

A bit about the band: It’s comprised of the PCC Lancer Band, plus 200 of the more than 500 high school music students who auditioned. Jack Taylor is the band director, Tad Carpenter is the percussion director, and Dr. James Arnwine, dean of the Performing Arts at PPC, served as the assistant band director.

 

All photos are copyrighted by LB Monteros. Contact for permissions.